2,300 birds found dead along Chilean beachesFrom Marilia Brocchetto, CNN
May 12, 2012 -- Updated 0713 GMT (1513 HKT)
Wildlife engineer Guillermo Boigorria, left, and regional prosecutor Lev Castro inspect sea bird in Peru, which along with Chile has seen a rash of water bird deaths.STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Warm waters off Peru have chased away fish, a national center studying El Nino says
Fish flee south to deeper, cooler waters, leaving 5,000 Peruvian surface-feeding birds dead
Chilean birds have apparently feastedon such fleeing fish, an environment professor says
Many ofthe dead Chilean birds have injuries consistent with getting trapped in fishing nets
(CNN)-- Chilean officials are asking fishermen to help save birds caught in nets after thousands of dead fowl appeared along coastal Chile this week.
At least 2,300 dead birds were found along beaches between Cartagena and Playa de Santo Domingo, Chile, said Jose Luis Britos, and environment professor and director ofthe Museum of Natural History of San Antonio, Chile.
Many ofthe birds, which come from several species, had broken wings and bruisingon the outside oftheir bodies -- injuries consistent with getting trapped in fishing nets, Britos said.
He said bird deaths from fishing nets occur every year, but neverat this level. In a typical year, about 15 to 20 dead birds are found, Britos said.
Dying pelicans in Peru have been blamedon warm waters.One hypothesis forthe increase this year involves climate. As Chilean weather gets colder this time of year, migrating birds that would normally travel north for warmth are instead lingering to feaston an influx of anchovies and sardines that had fledthe coast of Peru in search of cooler waters.
Earlier this week, Peruvian authorities say warm waters off that country's coast are to blame forthe deaths of more than 5,000 marine birds.
The Peruvian National Center forthe Study of El Nino said that since February,the Peruvian coast has had an abundance of warm water as a result of marine currents throughoutthe world's oceans.The warm water has alteredthe marine ecosystem, it said.
The warm water has led fish such as anchovies and other species that live in surface waters to migrate to deeper water towardthe south. As a result, pelicans and other birds that feed fromthe surface ofthe water died of starvation.
"Ifthese oceanographic conditions persist, it is likely that its impact will spread to other areas ofthe (Peruvian) coast even duringthe fall, which could makethe numbers increase and affect other marine species,"the report stated.
The Peruvian ministry of environment said seafood is still safe to eat, and encouraged everyone to continue to support local fishermen, according to state-run Andina news agency.
Officials in Peru continue to search forthe cause of death of almost 900 dolphins sincethe beginning ofthe year.The health ministry is awaiting final results from molecular analysis looking forthe morbillivirus, which previously has been linked to dolphin deaths.
The Chilean agriculture and livestock ministry and staff from Britos' center have called for a meeting with fishermen for Monday.They are asking fishermen to try to save trapped birds before closingtheir nets.
Britos said he worries that until Monday,the number of dead birds could rise significantly.
This is very worrying , let's hope they can find the cause soon.
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